Should I sell the Mac mini and get a Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by alphaod, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I've been using the new 2009 Mac mini since it came out. I love the little machine; my original plan was to use it as a light desktop and my MacBook Pro as my portable.

    Anyways, times have changed: I use this Mac mini as a desktop a lot. In fact it's gotten to a point where I think I've exceeded the capabilities of this computer.

    The issues I have are:
    1) Constant memory swapping,
    2) Lagging UI,
    3) Slow to open applications and move between applications,
    4) Switching between Spaces take about 3-5 seconds on average,
    5) CPU loads at 4.0+ constantly with 190% CPU usage 24/7.

    The reason for the CPU and memory usage:
    1) VMs running 24/7,
    2) File server,
    3) More than 15 apps open 24/7.

    It also really annoys me that I cannot play any 1080p videos and some 720p videos—a deficiency even when no other programs are running.

    Now will I do better with a Mac Pro? Yes this is a big jump from a Mac mini to a Mac Pro, but I need to be able know that such a jump would be justifiable.

    I know I can benefit from more RAM: I would get at least 12GB of RAM. It would certain speed things up if my Mac mini could support more RAM.

    The Mac Pro loud? I have my Mac mini about 5 feet away from my bed, and it's on 24/7. I don't sleep my desktop; would I be annoyed with a Mac Pro?

    I've had a few HDD scares within the last few months: I want the Mac Pro RAID card—a good card to own? I won't be running BootCamp at all, since I run VMs now.

    I can afford it, but I don't want to waste my money—is this a worthy upgrade for my uses? I won't be making money off the machine… :(

    I really am getting frustrated with this computer right now; typing this post has resulted in around 6 instances of computer lock up, as in everything just pauses as if it was overwhelmed.

  2. zorahk macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2008
    North Korea
    Based on your usage I am confused as to why you would've even considered a mini.
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Aside from videos, you didn't really mention what you actually use the machine for.

    Mini to Pro is a pretty huge jump - most people don't need that kind of horsepower.

    Are you sure you wouldn't be okay with an iMac? And seriously, what in the world are you doing that you need 12 Gb of RAM? :eek:
  4. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    My usage before was nominal; it was after I got the mini that said usage has increased.

    I run a file server, VMs, I use Photoshop and stuff a lot; just got a new hobby taking landscapes and making panaromas—stuff gets pretty big and nasty. Of course I also do programming, but that's child's work.

    I would have been okay with a iMac if it didn't have a built-in screen (kind of defeats the purpose I guess)—I upgrade my computers a lot more than my monitors.

    As with the RAM, well that's based on the fact that 6GB-8GB would be just about right, but I need to account for future usage and since Nehalem is triple channel, I'd need 3 sticks. So 6x2GB makes 12GB (3 for each processor).
  5. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    well if you've reached the mac mini's limitations my advice would be to upgrade to a machine with more power. The mac pro might be overkill but if you plan on it being a long term purchase then I think you might just be able to justify it (considering you don't make money off it).

    What about an imac? Or maxing out the mini?
  6. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I don't really know what else I can do to max out the mini; I can't upgrade to 8GB of RAM, I have enough HDD space, CPU is soldered.
  7. emoore macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2003
    You may need a more powerful computer but I don't understand why you say you can't play a 1080p movie on the mini. I don't have the new mini but I have a 1.5 year old macbook and it plays 1080p movies just fine with lower specs than the 2009 mini.
  8. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    invest in a good SSD, that's the only way you'll get the UI responsiveness you're looking for.
  9. Azrel macrumors regular


    Jun 8, 2005
    mac pro for you is a waste of money if you're not using it for work. I can think of much better things to do with the money.

    My advise would be to either buy an iMac or upgrade the HDD to an SSD. Another option would be to buy a hackintosh.

    Well, if you're super rich and don't have anything better to do with your money, of course do it!


    I too dream of having a mac pro. But I could never justify (or even afford!) the price right now! =)
  10. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    You know that you can hook up an additional display to the iMac? Dual screens would certainly be very useful for all the multitasking you do.

    Apart from that, why don't you split your tasks since you have 2 very new machines. Use the mini for the VMs and the mbp for your photoshop/programming... that way everything should be really fast & snappy and you won't need to spend additional money.
  11. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
  12. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Are you planning on a single quad core with 3x4GB DIMMs or the 8 core? Four core would run what you want to by the sounds of it, but maybe (big maybe) you will out grow that too.

    Louder than a mini, not horrendus. Depends on your hearing and how heavy a sleeper you are though, some people wouldn't be able to sleep next to one I'm sure.

    OSX can do software RAID 0, 1 and 10. You only need it if you want to do RAID 5. It is an expensive option though and there are cheaper alternatives.

    It sounds like you are stuck in the place that many find themselves in due to Apple's desktop offerings. Even if you choose a Mac Pro there are 3 systems in the 2008 Mac Pro (refurb/used), 2009 quad and 2009 octo that then need to be considered as I think all would offer you something different (the 2008 obviously just better value for money). Though depending on how light your photoshop work is an 8 core 2009 might be the best choice (assuming you wouldn't bump for the 2.66Ghz or 2.93GHz eight core options).
  13. Beerfloat macrumors regular


    Feb 21, 2009
    While I'm sure that a Mac Pro could admirably do whatever you want to do with it, it sounds to me like you would want to separate your front-end applications and your server side stuff somewhere along the line anyhow.

    My own Mini works well as my main machine for day to day stuff but I have an inexpensive quad core box running VMware ESX with a few OSs for most other stuff.
  14. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    1. Max the ram out on the mini to 4 gigs. I noticed a big difference running parallels from 2 gigs to 3 gigs in my white c2d imac. If you're wanting to run 2 or more vm's at the same time, it may well be too much for the mini, period.

    2. HD upgrade for the mini as well. Putting a large 7200 rpm drive in the mini would give it a noticeable boost in boot up and disk intensive operations as well. SSD's are still pretty pricey for the performance boost they offer, IMO.

    3. Consider a firewire drobo for exterior storage needs.

    Another option would be to sell both of your existing machines and get a higher end mbp that will now take 8 gigs of ram. You'd be able to tell from your current one if you would be able to live with it constantly on beside your bed.
  15. Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008
    The only question is why you bought the Mini in the first place, but you already answered that yourself.

    I don't think the entire topic is even worth a discussion. When you run VMs, you need a machine with sufficient horsepower, meaning something with four to eight CPU cores and lots of RAM. In the (small) Apple world, only the Mac Pro and the XServes can give you that. So if you want to stay with OS X and Apple hardware, the question is not -IF- you should buy a Mac Pro, but only -which configuration- you should buy.
  16. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    think about picking up an older 2.8 octo if you can. they have been known to go for a lot less since the new ones came out and are still excellent machines (you also get dvi which would be more useful if you are changing monitors often)
  17. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    well it sounds like the mac pro would be great for you, if you can afford it. based on your usage, it seems like you are similar to me. i have a 2006 mac pro, and i would benefit from a faster mac pro, but cannot afford it right now.

    my 2006 mac pro has 14 GB of ram, and even without VMs, i sometimes get page outs.

    the noise of my mac pro is a little fan noise, but after cleaning out the dust, it's not bad at all.
  18. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    First off thanks all for your input!

    I don't know why either; the computer should be powerful enough to handle it, but some reason, I get a lot of dropped frames and stuttering audio; I already have the audio offloaded to an external source.

    Well the only 2 SSDs I would consider are the Intel and the OCZ Vertex, since the rest stutter. Plus I already want an SSD for my laptop (and it would make more sense to use one on that anyways).

    I already tried a Hackintosh; even went to length to get the EFi-X; didn't work so well.

    Yes of course, but I have the ACD which means it won't be level; also I would need to get at least the high end 24", which would mean spending $2000+.

    I'd rather have one really nice computer rather than 2 or more regular computers. Plus if I was going to get another computer to run VMs, it would really defeat the purpose, since I can build just get a computer that runs Windows and another that runs Linux, together for less than $1000. I would just have more computers. I already have 2 other computers; I really can't do with more computers.

    No I have 4GB ;)

    I was planning on the 2.26 or 2.66 8-Core. I run multithreaded applications, and I think I could benefit from having more cores oppose to just more speed.

    That sounds good.

    Yes I want RAID 5; I don't mind the overhead, just rather my data is safe and I don't want to lose a lot of capacity over that security.

    Oh yeah, that's on the mark; I absolutely despise the Apple line-up and the way their desktops are set up. It's either a head-less mainstream computer of a Mac mini or a overblown workstation of a Mac Pro.

    Already got 4GB :)

    Already running a 320GB Scorpio Black.

    Also already have one.

    I've already considered doing that. First off I think quad cores are the way into the future; however I'm trying to maintain as less work on my portable machine as possible. Also I really take my computer with me, so that would mean not being to run it on 24/7 which would defeat the purposes that I got a powerful machine in the first place. Sure I could sell all my computers, get a MacBook and a high-end iMac, but that's a big overhaul and the way computers are, I won't be able to get a substantial return on my used Macs which would defeat this purpose. Plus there is the issue, that the MacBook has a really shhhty display panel.

    Yeah that would be a easy decision if the Mac Pro wasn't like $4K+ for an 8-core.

    That would be a good choice, from what I have followed, the new processors are a lot faster especially for memory intensive applications; plus I have the monitor with a miniDP which would mean having to buy a newer graphics card.

    I know I can benefit from upgrading, but it's not as small and cheap investment by any means.
  19. mike5411 macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2008
    Your signature says you have a macbook pro. Why dont you sell the mini and just use the MBP as your primary computer for all of that work. Its going to have a faster professor, harddrive, possibly more ram. Your sig even says you have a ACD. So you already have the perfect desktop setup with your mbp.
  20. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Unfortunately that set up either means no Mac on the go or no computer to access over the Internets when I'm on the go. I need 2 computers.

    Yes for many that is a great setup.
  21. zorahk macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2008
    North Korea
  22. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    Well that's barely enough for browsing, get at least 2 of them! :D
  23. allmIne macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2008
    United Kingdom
    I have my MBP hooked up to an ACD, and I use it on the go all the time. I just unplug the cables connecting it, and plug them back in when I'm home?

    Or am I missing something entirely here, lol?
  24. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    The most I ever spent on a computer is about $4000; that was when I was gamer and I really want the best stuff; now I realize how silly that was for buy the top-of-the-line components.

    Same with the Mac; for someone who is not making a positive-returns investment, there is no need for that. The top I would buy would be a 2.66GHz 8-core—even at that, I'd be spending over $4000.

    That should be adequate enough for at least 3-4 years I think.

    I need a computer to run 24/7; unplug and go means I have to sleep or turn off the computer.

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